Welcome to our month-long celebrations for the amazing
For our first week's post, we will take a look at Strong Medicine and Boys Don't Cry, plus a list of the author's favorite things. All the way at the bottom is also a chance to win one of her books.
First up, Strong Medicine
Two men who meet in a psychiatric institution couldn’t possibly find happiness together—could they?
The world seemed to be telling disgraced former child star and singer Cameron Fox that he would never be happy again. A drunken car accident gets him sentenced to a work-release at Riverbend Behavioral Health Facility.
Reclusive, traumatized writer Jonah Radley has an entire graveyard of skeletons in his closet. Jonah regularly hospitalizes himself for psychotic episodes caused by a horrific childhood trauma, his biggest secret—one he refuses to speak about in therapy.
Jonah and Cameron form a bond inside the hospital, forged in mutual pain and hope for a better life. Once they leave the hospital, they must decide if they are brave enough to explore the intricacies of living with mental illness—and find a new normal together.
Jonah was feeling particularly lucid that day. He hadn’t seen any dead relatives, nothing had burned, and he actually felt like he was inside his own body, for once. He knew it wouldn’t last. It was a constant feeling of dancing on the edge of the cliff, just waiting for the one misstep that would send him plummeting into the void again.
He sat in the rocking chair, the one that had become known as ‘Jonah’s chair,’ and watched Harry the groundskeeper shovel snow off the patio next to the picture window. The scoliotic old man bent to sprinkle handfuls of rock salt over the pavers before moving on farther into the courtyard.
As usual, Jonah lost himself in the warmth of the blanket of sunlight, so much so that he was startled when he sensed a presence behind him. It was just a change in the air, a shift of the molecules, and then a new scent—sharp and heady, a mixture of cedar smoke and Old Spice. Jonah had smelled it before, yesterday. He didn’t need to see to know that the sparkly new probie was standing behind him.
And just like that, just picturing the man in his mind with his weird, shaggy blond hair, dark blue eyes, and boyish features, Jonah remembered. He’d been much younger then, the boy on the TV that his mother had sat him in front of when she couldn’t deal with his damning silence anymore. That boy, his sweet face, and even sweeter voice, had saved Jonah more times than he could count, just kept him hanging on for one more day.
Staring unblinking out the window, Jonah breathed deep of that fragrance and addressed the spectral memory of Kyle Chase. “I know you,” he whispered.
The air stilled as the movement behind him ceased, as if the other man had turned to stone.
“I loved you once.”
Footsteps. Soft, padding, staccato beats of leather against linoleum, until Jonah was face to face with his boyhood crush. Well, more like face to chest, since Jonah was seated and Kyle was looming over him. He wasn’t Kyle, of course, not really. Though Jonah strained, digging through layers of memory, he couldn’t extract the boy—man’s real name.
“Excuse me?” Not-Kyle asked, bushy eyebrows raised toward his hairline.
Jonah tried for a rueful smile, and he could practically hear his skin cracking with the effort. “Sorry, probie. It’s well known around here that I don’t make any sense. What I meant was ‘I used to watch your show.’”
“Oh. I, uh… really?”
Jonah half coughed, half grunted, because it was as close as he ever got to a laugh. “That surprises you?”
“Yes—No! I just sometimes forget that the people who used to watch my show are all grown-up now. Most of the time, I still feel like a kid, so it kind of catches me off guard.” He ran a hand through that mop of messy hair—bleached blond like he was still playing a Cali surfer boy on TV—then squatted down so that he was on Jonah’s level.
“I think you’d be the first one to call me a grown-up. I’ve been called a lot of things, but never that. Besides, I’m not as old as I look.”
“Yeah? How old?”
“Yeah, I know. That’s what hard living and insanity will do to you,” Jonah explained without a hint of malice.
“Oh, no. I’m sorry, that came out wrong… You don’t look bad. It’s the opposite, really. You look… yeah, anyway, you’re right, you do just look older than twenty-three. Not in a bad way.”
“Easy there. It’s really okay. I’m pretty hard to insult. Most of the things you could think of to say about me would be true anyway.” Jonah wiped his sweaty palms on his sweatpants and reached on out to him. “Jonah Radley.”
“Cameron Fox.” Cameron took his hand, shook it, lingered just a second longer than was proper.
“I have to admit, I was wrangling for an introduction because I couldn’t remember your real name. I figure you probably wouldn’t want me calling you Kyle.”
Cameron’s laugh was soft, cozy, like a splash of honey in some warm Earl Grey. “No, I guess not. It’s nice to meet you, Jonah Radley. Radley, that’s an unusual name.”
“Indeed it is. Not as unusual as you’d think, but yes… I did have to deal with the well-read students in school calling me ‘Boo’ all the time. But this is rural Appalachia, so it wasn’t always a problem if you get my drift.”
Jonah could see it took Cameron a moment to get the reference, but when he did, he chuckled again. “So what made you decide to join the wonderful world of psychiatric care?” Jonah asked.
Something flashed in Cameron’s eyes, a cloud, a moment of indecision, before he answered. “I got arrested.”
“Ah, you’re one of Rohan’s boys.” Jonah kept his voice neutral, careful not to seem like he was judging, because people in glass houses and all that… “A probie in every sense of the word.”
Cameron lowered his head, studied the ugly, weathered linoleum. “Unfortunately.”
“Hey, we all have pasts. At least you have a future.”
That blond head snapped up, and Cameron gaped at him. “So do you, Jonah.”
Jonah shook his head sadly, then caught sight of a pair of dark, yawning eye sockets peering through the window. One of the dead girls, of course, just when he was starting to feel human again.
He didn’t make eye contact when he spoke to Cameron. “You should go now,” he whispered.
“Go!” Jonah shouted it, his voice tinged with desperation. He never cared before, but he didn’t want this man to see him disappear, to see him float. His eyes welled up, something that hadn’t ever happened at Riverbend before, and he felt ashamed. “Please.”
“Probie!” Rohan’s rich tenor rang out across the buzzing air, slicing the tension between them. Cameron tensed, and his feet seemed to obey Rohan before the rest of him caught up. He cast one more sad, sidelong look at Jonah before he was led away.
Once he was alone, Jonah began to shake. Shivering violently though he was burning up inside, Jonah felt tears sear flaming rivulets down his cheeks. He dug the heels of his hands into his eye sockets until they ached, and eventually the tears stopped. Then there was nothing left but smoke.
Get the book:
Second in today's line-up, Boys Don't Cry
Mackenzie Pratt is having the worst luck of his life. His apartment building is being torn down, and since he’s jobless and just weeks away from graduating college, he can’t find anywhere else he can afford to live that isn’t a critter-infested dump. As he’s lamenting the very real possibility of job hunting while couch-surfing, he gets an offer from the coworker of his best friend.
An in-demand mobile app developer and heir to his parents’ fortune, Laurent Beaudry is literally an eccentric billionaire. Even though Mackenzie realizes he’s basically living the plot of a cheesy romance novel, he takes the proffered room in Laurent’s Baltimore mansion. He finds his new housemate to be grumpy, brooding, and, at times, incredibly kind and endearing.
Raised by his brother after their father’s death, Mackenzie spent his formative years plowing headlong through school, focusing on little else beyond earning his teaching certification. He’s never taken the time to explore love and relationships, much less sexuality, so when he finds himself being courted by another man, he has no idea what to do. And when he realizes he might actually return those feelings, his life takes a whole new direction.
Situated at the eastern edge of the waterpark, between the food court and the entrance to the children’s park, Daredevil Falls was where everyone went when it was too hot to breathe. And everyone had. The line filled up the canopied, fenced waiting area, and spilled out around the corner and down the blacktop path, and it wasn’t moving fast since the ride only had two boats. If we waited in that, the sun would probably be down by the time we actually got to ride.
Taylor, who’d gotten to the end of the line first, turned back toward us, disappointment—and possibly a little heat stroke—evident on his face. With a sigh, I wiped sweat off my face with the edge of my shirt. When I looked over at Laurie, he quickly averted his eyes.
“Why don’t we just go to the lookout?” I asked. The lookout was what frequent visitors called the observation deck that spanned the artificial river right over the impact zone. Even though the railing was like eight feet tall to prevent people from falling in, anyone standing on the deck when a boat came down got even more soaked than if they’d been on the ride. Since it wasn’t an official attraction, people only knew about it from word-of-mouth, so it wasn’t usually too crowded.
Taylor pointed at me. “Awesome idea.” He grabbed Karla’s hand and pulled her down the path. “Let’s go, losers, keep up!” he tossed back over his shoulder.
“Tell me again why you hang out with that guy,” Laurie asked in a low growl.
I scrunched my nose, trying to think of a time Taylor hadn’t been in my life. I’d known Taylor since kindergarten, for better or worse, and we’d always been friends. “Eh, he acts kind of dumb sometimes, but he’s a good friend.”
Laurie shrugged and followed me up the ramp to the lookout. The C-shaped deck had one long side that faced the falls and two short sides that curled around a couple of locked rooms—probably for storage. The short sides were like little annexes, halfway private, only receiving a fraction of the spray. Most of the people hoping to get wet jostled for prime position in the splash zone at the front. The four of us took up residence right up front in the middle. Taylor and Karla tracked the position of the next boat, while Laurie was sending me confused glances.
“What are we doing?” he asked.
“Just wait,” I whispered, pointing at the boat that was on the verge of plunging down the hill.
“Wait for what? Why are we just standing here?”
I suppressed a chuckle. “Oh my god, you are the most impatient person I know! Wait for…that,” I said, as the boat hit the deep water at the bottom and the huge wave started to form.
The wave hit the deck with what would’ve been brutal force if it hadn’t been tempered by the thick wooden railing. But instead of hitting us hard, it just drenched us from head to toe, the coldness of the water knocking the wind out of us. I dissolved into laughter as Laurie gasped at the cold, then sputtered as water ran into his eyes and mouth.
“Asshole,” he laughed, hooking his arm around my neck and giving me a vicious noogie. It probably should’ve seemed like a brotherly move, but I was hyperaware of the sensation of his hands on me. My breath caught, I shivered slightly, and Laurie gently shoved me away, his eyes going a little wild.
When I glanced back at Taylor and Karla, they were watching us with interest. Taylor opened his mouth to speak, but then we were blindsided by the wave from the second boat. After being drenched again, we were all laughing hysterically, all awkward, tension-filled moments forgotten.
Then Karla tugged Taylor toward one of the side annexes—one of the places couples sometimes went to find a little privacy—and he allowed himself to be led away, with a little eyebrow wiggle at me. I rolled my eyes and turned to Laurie, expecting to find him laughing. Instead, he stared at me, eyes wide and hot. Before I knew it, he’d grabbed my arm and dragged me toward the other side.
I found myself slammed against the wall, and my words were cut off by Laurie crushing his lips to mine. There was desperation in the way he gripped my shirt with his fists, the way he wedged his thigh between my legs, the way he swept his tongue inside my mouth like he needed my taste more than air. My hands curled around his biceps, clenching convulsively. My thoughts splintered into errant fragments, floating by on silent wings, just outside my grasp.
As I parted my lips wider and angled my head, my tongue joined his in an erotic dance that seemed out of place in a semi-private alcove at a very public amusement park. That thought slammed into me, scattering all of the others like fireflies from the grass. Remembering where we were with a sudden, dizzying clarity, I used my grip on his arms to gently push him back.
He allowed me to break the kiss, but he didn’t move away, didn’t disconnect our bodies. Instead, he buried his head in the crook of my neck and huffed out a breath. When I wrapped my arms around his waist, I could feel him trembling. I pet his flank like one might a skittish colt. “Hey, hey, what’s wrong?”
He lifted his head with a shudder, then pressed his forehead against mine. “You scared me, okay?” The words seemed almost forced out against his will.
I cocked my head, raised a questioning brow.
“Look, I get that you don’t feel the same, but… I-I love you, and for a second there, I thought you’d drowned. Brought back bad memories,” he mumbled.
My heart stuttered in my chest. My fingers twisted in the material of his shirt, and I pulled him closer. “I’m sorry,” I whispered.
He nuzzled his nose behind my ear. “Being so close to you all day but not being able to show my feelings… A-and then that happened… I just need to touch you. Just for a minute.”
And then he was kissing me again, as my pulse thundered too loud in my ears. Hands at the small of my back, he pushed up my shirt to get to skin. His leg pressed closer to me, and I unconsciously rubbed against it. He made a broken sound into my mouth, and suddenly he was unfastening my board shorts.
“We’re in public,” I said in a harsh whisper.
“No one can see us,” he murmured against my neck. Then he licked a trail up the line of my pulse and sucked just behind my ear. My knees buckled but his thigh between my legs held me up. I didn’t know if he’d figured it out yet—hell, I only had recently—but my neck was apparently a weak spot.
“I’ll be quick. You’ve been just out of my reach all day, and I can’t stand it anymore.”
It was wrong. It was illicit. It was exciting. I didn’t stop him.
Get the book:
J.K. Hogan's favorite things:
- Food: sushi
- Drink: coffee (duh…)
- Music: I couldn’t name favorites, but right now I’m into strong female voices like Pink, Birdy, Jess Glynne, and Kesha
- Movie: The Goonies
- Book: Me, name a favorite book? Never gonna happen. Lol
- Candy: Andes mints
- Place to go: to meet with my stitch ‘n bitch group
- Place to vacation: Scotland and Iceland so far, but I dream about going to Japan
- Place to blow $100: either Amazon kindle store or Knitpicks! Lol
- Favorite accessory: I’m not fussy. If I have an accessory at all, it’s probably just a beanie
- Favorite restaurant: New Zealand Café
More about the author:
J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?
Connect with J.K. Hogan:
- Facebook Page
- Facebook Group
She also offers book cover design and graphics.
Thank you for celebrating with us. Come back next week for more of this author's books, five little-known facts about J.K. Hogan, and another chance to win one of her books.
Until then, happy reading!